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Antique silver cornet donated to the Betteshanger Colliery Welfare Band in memory of Peggy and Geoffrey Frost

An antique silver cornet has been donated to the Betteshanger Colliery Welfare Band in memory of music lovers Peggy and Geoffrey Frost.

The story of how they met through a love of music has inspired David Ingram, a good friend of their daughter, Geraldene Featherstone, to donate the instrument dated 1872.

The couple were born and grew up in Norfolk. Mr Frost lived near to East Dereham where his father, Sydney Frost, was founder and bandmaster of Dereham Silver Band, and it was through the band that the pair first met.

John Goold, Bridgette Goold principal cornet, Geraldene Featherstone, daughter of Peggy and Geoffrey Frost, David Ingram
John Goold, Bridgette Goold principal cornet, Geraldene Featherstone, daughter of Peggy and Geoffrey Frost, David Ingram

Mrs Featherstone, 71, who now lives in Cyprus, said: “Dad was brought up with band music and he played in his father’s band. Grandad Frost would use his son to stand in for any absent band members so Dad ended up being able to play all the instruments. Among his first favourites were the euphonium and the silver cornet.

“Mother’s family lived not far away in the village of North Elmham.

“They were staunch Methodists and the Methodist church played a big part in their social lives. Peggy and Geoffrey met when the Dereham Silver Band came to play in the church at North Elmham.”

The silver cornet donated in memory of Peggy and Geoffrey Frost
The silver cornet donated in memory of Peggy and Geoffrey Frost

A romance ensued and they would meet after work whenever they could.

“On leaving school at 14, Peggy had gone into service, as many young girls did in the 1930s, with a semi-aristocratic family at the local big house.

“She would have one evening a week off and Dad would cycle over from Dereham to meet her, Mrs Featherstone said.

Geoffrey and Peggy Frost on their wedding day in 1941
Geoffrey and Peggy Frost on their wedding day in 1941

Mrs Frost’s employers had strict rules and having a boyfriend was frowned upon so Mr Frost was not allowed to go up the long drive to the house to meet her.

He had to wait by a little bridge at the bottom of the drive and on dark wintry nights he would whistle the tune for Londonderry Air so she knew that he was there.

Mr and Mrs Frost, who moved to Deal in 1976, and lived in Alfred Row, were regulars at the Walmer Green band concerts.

The East Dereham Silver Band
The East Dereham Silver Band

When Mrs Frost died widowed in February this year, the family had Londonderry Air played at the funeral.

“The Air was played on a silver cornet, Dad’s favourite instrument, and the one he used to play when they first met. It was as if her Geoff was calling to her to join him.”

The donated silver cornet will be used to play Londonderry Air at the final Walmer Green concert on Sunday.

Mrs Featherstone, a retired supply teacher, will be coming back to the UK for the concert.

For more information on Sunday’s concert, see Going Out, pages 44-45.


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